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Permuations of identical items

  1. Nov 7, 2016 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    There is a book with 2 volumes. Each volume exists in 3 different languages. Each language has 2 identical copies(total of 12 books).
    In how many ways we can arrange them on a shelf, with no restrictions and order of the volumes is irrelevant?

    2. Relevant equations


    3. The attempt at a solution
    I thought that since we have 12 books, we can arrange them in ##\frac{12!}{(2!)^6}## but apparently it is not correct. The correct answer is ##\frac{12!}{6!}## but I am not sure why.

    What am I missing?
    Thank you.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 7, 2016 #2

    PeroK

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    You're missing an attempt at the solution, so we can see where you go wrong.
     
  4. Nov 7, 2016 #3

    PeroK

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    PS as the question is stated, I would say the answer is 1. If order is irrelevant, then you have the same 12 books on the shelf in all cases.
     
  5. Nov 7, 2016 #4

    PeroK

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    PPS I agree with your answer! If you assume that order is relevant.
     
  6. Nov 7, 2016 #5
    I have just edited that the order of the volumes is irrelevant... does it add any information?
     
  7. Nov 7, 2016 #6

    PeroK

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    That doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If books are on a shelf, then the order defines the arrangement; otherwise, as I said, you only have the one set of books. It's different if two books are identical, then you can swap those without changing the arrangement. But, if you swap Volume 1 and Volume 2, by definition you have a different arrangement of books.

    I'd be happy that you solved the question the sensible way. I wouldn't get too hung up on what precisely the question setter had in mind in this case.
     
  8. Nov 7, 2016 #7
    Well, we have 6 sets of books, each set consists of 2 identical books. Like: ##A_1,A_1;B_1,B_1;C_1,C_1;A_2,A_2;B_2,B_2;C_2,C_2;## where the 1's and 2's refer to the volume(vol1 or vol2). That's the case the question talks about. So I can't understand why my answer is not correct... Maybe it's not me?
     
  9. Nov 7, 2016 #8

    PeroK

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    This is why you should have posted your working in the first place. You can swap the two ##A_1##'s etc. without changing the order. That's why I thought you got ##\frac{12!}{(2!)^6}##.

    I can't make sense of the order of volumes not being relevant. If you interpret that as ##A_1, A_1, A_2, A_2## can be in any order, then you'd just get ##\frac{12!}{(4!)^3}##.
     
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